|Georgia state Sen. Marty Harbin introduced legislation to legalize LGBTQ discrimination|
State Sen. Marty Harbin of Georgia has introduced SB 221, a Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people in the Peach state.
Nine state senators (seven of whom are committee chairman) have signed on as cosponsors ahead of the March 7 procedural deadline.
According to Georgia Equality, SB 221 would “allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers, among others, and would grant taxpayer-funded agencies a broad license to discriminate against LGBT youth, families, and other Georgians.”
In 2016, a similar bill was passed but former Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed the legislation as economic backlash prompted the Metro Atlanta Chamber to predict financial losses in excess of $600 million in regard to sporting events, convention business and major movie location shoots.
Newly-elected Gov. Brian Kemp, however, has signaled he will sign a RFRA bill if it lands on his desk.
During his campaign last year, Kemp told his followers he would support legislation that mirrors the language in a federal religious freedom law that was passed in 1993.
His opponent in the 2018 gubernatorial race, Stacey Abrams, says she opposes the legislation.
Discrimination has no place in GA. Our LGBTQ community, film industry, and state would suffer if #RFRA is signed into law. Some folks at the Capitol want to take us back to ‘93. There’s no RFRA lite. I stand w/ LGBTQ Georgians & the 500+ GA employers who want to move us forward. https://t.co/EOnhyaNNf3— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) March 1, 2019
That legislation, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, was found to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997. SCOTUS ruled that the law could only apply to federal government.
As a result, 21 individual states have passed their own state RFRAs.
SB 221 includes the same language as the federal RFRA, but also adds provisions for recovering legal costs in religious lawsuits and gives judges the power to change local laws that might be deemed as infringing on religious beliefs.
Georgia political pundits say the bill will probably pass in the senate, but the legislation’s chances in the state House are unclear.
This isn’t the only anti-LGBTQ legislation working its way through the Georgia legislature.
Last week, the state senate passed SB 375 (by a vote of 35-19) that would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples based on their religious beliefs.
That bill is now headed to the state House for consideration.
Watch the report from local NBC affiliate 11Alive below.
WTF @GaRepublicans don't you realize how disastrous this would be for #Georgia? #antiglbtq #RFRA Bad for:
Economic Development @gdecd
Takes state backwards @GovKemp— Progressive Paul (@pauljgibler) March 1, 2019